What we learned at Bills minicamp - Day 1

Posted Jun 13, 2017

Buffalo's receiving corps is working hard to establish an on-field rapport with Tyrod Taylor and the other QBs. So far, so good.

The Bills three-day mandatory minicamp got underway on Tuesday. Here’s what we learned from the first of three practice sessions this week.

1 - Receivers earning their stripes
It’s a totally new mix of receivers for the Bills this season. Only four of the 12 wideouts on the roster were with the team in 2016. Thus far some of the newcomers have impressed head coach Sean McDermott.

“You start with Zay (Jones), and then you get right down through – Walt Powell has had a nice spring so far,” said McDermott. “Dez Lewis has done a nice job, Philly Brown is working in there. I’ll tell you the guy that’s really stood out has been Andre [Holmes]. He’s done a phenomenal job, not only on offense, but also special teams. Very solid performer day-to-day, consistent and just really – that’s been a nice pickup for us so far and I really appreciate his leadership.”

Tyrod Taylor is encouraged by the rapport he’s been able to establish with the balance of the receiving corps, especially when it comes to how specific receivers run their routes.

“We’re definitely far along,” said Taylor. “We’ve been at it since April 3rdand we’ve had some time to talk to each other and get to know each other off the field, but also on the field. Get to know each other’s body language on routes and just talking through routes based on what we see on film. I think I have a good feel for those guys. So we just have to continue to build off of what we have now when we get to training camp.”


2 - Don’t call Jonathan Williams a bruiser
A lot of outside observers have taken a look at Jonathan Williams square-like body type and automatically assume he’s a straight-ahead plow horse of a back. Looks can be deceiving. Williams has a good deal of wiggle to his game and is also adept out of the backfield as a receiver.

Those are important traits to have in Rick Dennison’s offensive scheme.

“There’s a lot of room for you to use your instincts,” said Williams of the offense. “It’s that stretch, one step, downhill cut and I think that fits my game just because that’s the type of back I am. A lot of people think I’m a big bruiser, but I feel I’m more of a slasher and I feel like slashing fits this offense.”

Williams stepped into the number one rushing role on Tuesday with LeSean McCoy sidelined by a stomach virus.

Mike Tolbert also got his share of carries during team segments. Joe Banyard and Cedric O’Neal saw most of the work with the second and third team units, while undrafted rookie Jordan Johnson was sprinkled in for a handful of plays here and there.

3 - Tre’Davious White is coming on
Last week during the last two OTA practices, Tre’Davious White was all around the ball. His anticipation skills and break on the ball is at a pro level already. The coaching staff has made a point to leave him with the first team defense at right cornerback and get him as many reps as possible. Those reps are starting to pay off.

On Tuesday, White had a near interception on an attempted pass over the middle from Tyrod Taylor to Andre Holmes. Taylor’s ball location was good, but White deftly slid past Holmes at the last second to make a play on the ball.

He forced another incompletion on a Taylor pass intended for Sammy Watkins during 11-on-11.

Then in the final 11-on-11 segment White jumped a route run by Zay Jones and picked off a Taylor pass, which again had good ball location. White just beat his man to the spot for the interception.

“I feel good about where he is,” said McDermott. “There is a lot of work ahead of all of us, including him, and getting to where he needs to be to help this football team.”

Suffice to say thus far the signs are pretty encouraging.

4 - Watkins does a little more
Sammy Watkins wasn’t supposed to be practicing until training camp. While coach McDermott fell short last week of calling the receiver ahead of schedule coming off his second foot surgery, Watkins presence on the field is an encouraging sign. On Tuesday there was another sign.

Watkins was rotated in for a team rep at the start of each segment with the first team offense. He was only targeted a couple of times, but made one reception. It’s clear he’s still feeling his way back and isn’t ready to run routes at break neck speed. What is clear is that Watkins’ participation is a positive not just for him, but the rest of the offense.

“I definitely think we’re taking steps in the right direction,” said Taylor. “We had Sammy on the field getting some reps. We’re coming along nicely.”

“We are going to take it from a day-to-day approach and just be smart,” said McDermott. “The reps will be limited, just one rep at a time. (Head athletic trainer) Shone Gipson and (Sammy Watkins) have been in constant communication with us and what he needs at this time. We are focused on getting him ready for training camp and this is part of that process of ramping up at the right time.”